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Set in season 4, episodes 7-8.


by Viola S.


Simon naturally intervened when Schillinger and Robson, the thick-skulled white apes, leaped over the counter to attack O'Reily. Sure, O'Reily foolishly started it by throwing his tray of food over Schillinger, though Simon would bet his favorite hat that the Nazi motherfuckers had provoked him somehow. But that didn't matter. If Simon's wily old ally and enemy was set upon by a pair of half-wit thugs not fit to lick his boots, of course Simon had to jump into the fray. He danced between Robson and O'Reily, holding a big pot in front of him as a shield, favoring Robson with a wide mocking grin. It was always fun to smile at someone in a rage and watch them become even more infuriated. Simon made a point of doing this often.

He watched, laughing, as O'Reily and Schillinger were carted off by the hacks, and shook his head indulgently as the mick gave the Howell bitch his usual attitude. O'Reily wasn't fearless--far from it--but he did an admirable job of pretending he was. And that was what counted: the pretense, the performance. O'Reily knew how to put on a great show.

Later that day, as they were cleaning up the kitchens after dinner, Simon cornered O'Reily as he was scrubbing down one of the counters. "I stopped Robson from attacking you," he said, smiling broadly. "You owe me, pretty boy."

Immediately O'Reily skipped off a little to the side, putting a table between himself and Simon, safely out of easy reach.

Clever boy, thought Simon proudly.

"Owe you?" O'Reily's face broke into a teasing smirk. "I can't believe you're talking like that, Adebisi. There's no such thing as `owing' between us, not with our kind of friendship."

Simon chuckled, stretching over the table to run a hand down the other man's pale cheek. O'Reily tensed but remained in place, as he always did when Simon touched him. This time he even leaned into it a little, pressing his face against the large dark hand. Simon concealed his surprise. It was always a fun game to play, figuring out just how much touch O'Reily would accept, how much he'd let himself touch back, how far he'd let Simon go down this road before pulling away. Oh, it would never be anything significant--no hand jobs, no blowjobs, no fucking. But it was exciting to see how close he could get.

O'Reily was being unusually compliant today, but Simon didn't bother wondering why. The mick had his moods, after all, just like everyone else. Instead of thinking too much Simon let his hand wander, lightly grazing O'Reily's neck, skating across his chest and lingering just a little over the nipples.

He felt O'Reily's breathing grow uneven. Grinned with predatory delight. Pressed his palm hard against the flat chest, and felt the rapid thud of O'Reily's heartbeat, growing quicker by the second, giving the lie to his carefully blank face. That fucking table was still between them, preventing anything real from happening, and Simon knew that was how O'Reily wanted it. But that was okay. Simon had a long arm.

He moved it back up again, slowly, languidly. Caressed O'Reily's neck. Brushed his mouth with thick fingers.

O'Reily's lips parted a little, and he nipped lightly at Simon's thumb.

The air seemed to crackle. It gave Simon the courage--and courage was needed, for he feared O'Reily, as O'Reily feared him--to clasp O'Reily's chin and hold it in place as he leaned in to plant his mouth on the milky-white neck, marking it with his teeth.

Long wiry arms shoved him off, as Simon had known they would. He didn't resist, just laughed a little, noting with pleasure the mick's flushed face and tremulous breathing. "Motherfucker," O'Reily finally managed to get out, and if that was the best he could do, he must have really liked it.

"You wouldn't have it any other way, pretty boy," drawled Simon.

The mocking grin appeared on O'Reily's face again. "No, I guess I wouldn't," he said, matching his tone to Simon's, and immediately their normal camaraderie was restored. "Hey, Adebisi, are you sure you can keep your little pals under control?" And it was back to business.

Simon decided to play innocent. "What do you mean?"

"You know what I mean. Those stupid fucks, Tidd and Browne, fucking around with my brother. And all the rest of your buddies too. You sure it's not gonna happen again?"

"I told you, O'Reily," Simon said with a sigh. "They will be on a tight leash." He'd already said this, before, when O'Reily had stormed into the homeboys' meeting and hollered at Simon about keeping up his end of the deal. But O'Reily was always anxious. He always needed to keep making sure he wasn't being double-crossed. He'd been like that from the beginning.

He didn't really have to worry about that with Simon, who had a mile-wide soft spot for the overly clever little prick. Only O'Reily could barge in on Simon and his boys and scream at them and get away with it. Partly because Simon knew O'Reily was a force to be reckoned with. But also partly because Simon found him amusing.

"I don't feel right about partnering up with O'Reily," one of his homeboys had said, right after they'd offed Schibetta. "He's a fucking snake."

"Yes," Simon had said. "He is my pet snake."

"You sure he's the pet and not you?" Simon stomped the motherfucker's ass for that one. But it was true. He could never be sure about that, and that was where the fun came in. Most people feared Simon Adebisi, if they had brains in their heads. But for Simon to fear someone, as he feared O'Reily's quick and calculating mind--that was a novelty, and it gave him pleasure.

Simon couldn't give O'Reily what he wanted all the time. He couldn't let the mick start taking advantage. He said no sometimes for the hell of it, like when O'Reily said he wanted the Russian gone--Simon wasn't sure he could get someone whacked in protective custody, but even if he could, it was better not to. Even the best pets shouldn't be spoiled.

On the whole, though, O'Reily didn't have to worry about Simon. But he worried anyway. He worried all the time, even when there was nothing going on, mostly about his brother, except when he took a break and worried about the pretty doctor lady instead.

Simon understood why, of course. If O'Reily didn't worry nonstop, if he wasn't on his guard around everyone with no exceptions, he would have died long before now. He had no protection, for one thing. That other skinny Irish twig didn't count, and Cyril was a weakness rather than a help.

He still looked uncertain now, and Simon poked him in the shoulder. "Don't you trust me, O'Reily? I can keep my boys in line."

"Yeah, `course," said O'Reily finally, smiling. "It's just--my brother, you know? When they pester him it makes him crazy." A look flashed across his face, disappearing quickly, but not too quickly for Simon to see it. It made him queasy. He didn't want to see it. He didn't want to see that strange mix of fear and guilt and love that just appeared on O'Reily's face for a bare half-second. That wasn't what he wanted. He wanted the cold and gleeful schemer, the carefree dealer of deaths.

He took his hat off and stuck it on O'Reily's head. The mick smirked and paraded up and down the kitchen, aping Simon's walk, managing to keep the hat on his head in spite of its bizarre angle. "Ah," said Simon softly. "You do it well." Only O'Reily would dare mock Simon like this. Only O'Reily could do it successfully. His pet snake, the happy devil he wanted to fuck into the ground.

"I've finally figured out how you keep this fucking thing on your head," said O'Reily. "You gotta tilt your neck just the right way, that's what the trick is, right?"

Simon just grinned in response. Oh, yeah, he'd like to fuck him, fuck that thin body till it tore and broke, spilling rich bright blood over pale skin. Maybe some day he would, if O'Reily ever lost his touch, if his sharp brain ever dulled and it became safe. Simon would enjoy that, ripping apart the ruins of a once-strong man, bringing him low.

He doubted he'd ever get the chance, though. And that was all right. You couldn't have everything you wanted.

But sometimes you did get it, as Simon learned much later, when Kareem Said came to him and offered his partnership. Simon could live without his shallow desires, if his deepest longings were satisfied.

Said was so pure, so strong, so clear-minded. He had something. Simon wasn't sure what it was but he knew he'd wanted it all his life, sought it through all the empty years without putting a name to it. But it was real, and it was fierce, and he had it now. Now they were partners, he and Said. They would fight together, side by side. And there was nothing they could not do.

That night Simon dreamed of standing at the pearl-studded gates of heaven, Kareem Said by his side. Said was talking heatedly with an old and withered black man who blocked the gates, but Simon could not understand what they were saying. He could only hear that they were loud, and their voices cracked.

And Satan, who resembled Ryan O'Reily, stood by and laughed.


"Said and Adebisi, hand in hand," said Keller, sidling up next to Ryan.

Either Keller didn't like this new Black Power union any more than Ryan did, or he was hoping to use Ryan's dislike of it for his own purposes.

Well, that didn't have to be a bad thing. Maybe he and K-boy could find uses for each other.

"It's the end of the fucking universe," Ryan replied.

Enough was enough. Things were getting out of hand. Adebisi could swear up and down that his homeboys wouldn't rage out of control and hurt Cyril or Ryan, but Ryan wasn't willing to take his word for it, not in this case.

If Adebisi reneged on the deal then Ryan would be shit out of luck, just like Morales and Pancamo, the dumb fuckers. There wouldn't be a fucking thing he could do about it. Not with almost everyone in Em City loyal to Adebisi, not without some force to pit against the homeboys. And it wasn't enough to think that Adebisi wouldn't fuck him over. He had to be sure Adebisi couldn't, and he wasn't, not anymore.

"You'd better watch that pretty little ass." Adebisi's own words, back from when Ryan had first come to Oz.

Ryan still had to fight a shudder when he remembered that threat. Because it had been a threat, not a joke, not even a warning. He'd played it cool when he'd heard it, all those years back. He'd done his usual thing: pasted a sneer on his face, forced careless words out of his mouth, made his own threat after walking a safe distance away. But he had nightmares about it for weeks afterwards, nightmares where Adebisi had him trapped and helpless and big hands roamed all over his body and a thick cock rammed into him, and he couldn't do a goddamn thing to stop it. That kind of shit was what he'd been most afraid of when they'd thrown him in this fucking shithole, as afraid as he was of dying. Having Adebisi around just gave him more reason for fear.

The motherfucker was always touching Ryan. And it was fucking scary when Ryan realized he liked it. Adebisi would run his hands over him and Ryan...wouldn't stop him.

Oh, he'd stop it faster than a fucking lightning bolt if Adebisi went too far, but the bastard was too good at dancing around the borderline, stopping just short of the point where Ryan would have to end it. Too fucking clever, really. Because Adebisi was clever. He had his tricks, hidden behind the thick curtain of craziness he threw over himself. Sure, he was wild, and weird, and never really walked so much as danced. But there was a real method to his madness.

Yeah, Ryan liked the old scumfuck in spite of himself. In spite of his fear. Maybe even because of his fear, a little. Ryan didn't think too hard about what Adebisi did to Peter Schibetta and Kenny Wangler and Christ only knew who else--it was better for his own sanity not to dwell on what Adebisi had done, what Adebisi could do. But he knew, in the back of his mind, that it could have easily been him. Adebisi would have fucked his brains out, if said brains weren't quite so good at coming up with schemes and plots. And yeah, Ryan had to admit he got off on knowing that, knowing he was smart enough to make Simon fucking Adebisi stop dead in his tracks.

Besides, Adebisi was always so goddamn alive. That was something in a place mostly populated by zombies, Ryan included.

But he'd have to be out of his fucking mind to actually trust the guy. Not with his and Cyril's safety at stake. He'd have to find a way to bring Adebisi down, sooner rather than later.

Adebisi would be pissed about it, and would probably have an inkling that Ryan wasn't exactly an innocent party. But he'd get over it. Adebisi always got over everything, always managed to prance through every storm and come out exactly the same, right down to the hat stuck to the side of his head.


Ryan peered down from his bed, watching Cyril play with his new black and yellow puppet.

It was a week since Adebisi died. A week since he'd tottered out of his pod, looking like a gladiator who'd just killed his worst enemy, and then spewed bright blood all over the floor before collapsing.

That was never part of the plan. But it had happened, and here they were.

He had a dramatic exit, anyway. That was good. It would have been so fucking wrong for Simon Adebisi to go out quietly.

If Ryan and Keller hadn't framed Supreme Allah for the deaths of Shemin and Browne, Said probably wouldn't have gotten the opportunity to snatch the videotapes from Adebisi's pod and hand them over to Glynn. And then Adebisi wouldn't have attacked Said, and he'd still be alive.

In a sick way Ryan was glad he had something to do with Adebisi's death. If Adebisi had died and Ryan had no part in it--well, that would have been wrong, too.

A lawyer came to see Ryan a couple of days after Adebisi was shanked, telling him he'd been left something in Adebisi's will.

His will. Jesus fucking Christ. That was just like Adebisi, to make a fucking will, as if he had anything at all to leave anyone.

But whatever shit he'd had was important to him, the crazy bastard, important enough that he wanted it left to a few specific people. He'd been real particular about it.

He left Ryan a hat, and that stupid black and yellow striped sock.

Ryan gave the sock to Cyril. "Here you go, buddy," he said. "It's a puppet. See? It's from Adebisi."

"A puppet!" Cyril was fucking thrilled. Then he got a curious frown on his face. "Ryan, was Adebisi a bad man?"

Ryan snorted. "Hell, yes," he said. He took the hat and stuck it on the side of his head. Walked over to the mirror to stare at himself.

"But you miss him anyway."

He fucking hated it when Cyril told the truth like that.

Ryan looked in the mirror, hoping against hope that maybe some of the magic from the hat would seep into him, hoping maybe he'd capture some of that wild carelessness and freedom from worry. Maybe if he kept the hat on long enough he'd become like Adebisi. Maybe he'd stop caring, stop hurting, weather every storm with a crazy smile.

But all he saw in the mirror was himself, same as usual, thin and poisoned and stretched and always on the verge of cracking. The magic wasn't his, could never be his.

"Yeah," said Ryan softly. "Yeah, I guess I do."


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